Sounds of Silence

The heads of two giraffes standing close together but looking away from each other against a leafy background of treesThe irony of this warning against the perils of earbuds was too perfect to keep to myself. Certainly pouring sound in to excess has its risks. But for some of us, ear buds are the bulwark that shuts sound out. I live in my ear buds, waking, and often sleeping – on the street, in the store, on the bus, and even in my own living room. Every day, I am profoundly grateful for the refuge they provide me from a cacophonous world.

I still use the same pair of Panasonic ear buds I reviewed last fall. It’s been almost a year since I bought them, and they are going strong, despite heavy use every day, and many nights. I use them to listen to what I want to hear, but even more as armor against marauding noise that raids my private brain to obliterate my concentration. Why isn’t that a crime??

I have discovered a silent etiquette of ear buds. Putting them in can cause fellow bus riders sitting nearby to tone things down a notch, without my ever having to look their way or say a word. It’s funny how this works with people who probably would not respond well to a frown or a verbal complaint. Are they even conscious of their adjustment, or do they just react automatically because they know what it means when they put in their ear buds?

My perception of walking around in ear buds has changed radically since it first became common. I used to think people who did that were rudely disassociated from the common experience. Examining that viewpoint with more consciousness, I see it’s based on a rather extrovert-centric assumption that all people should always be ready for engagement with others at all times and in all places. Did I ever believe that? Well, if I did, I’m over it now!

 Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom.
Francis Bacon

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